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Our building and facilities

Originally operating out of Dorothy Hately's house, NESMS eventually moved into rooms (now the Old Schoolhouse) within the old Academy building on Schoolhill and Belmont Street. When this building was sold by the local authority to a developer, Dorothy persuaded the Methodist Church on Crown Terrace to provide NESMS with a venue to continue operating while funds were sought to buy our own building. Our building at 21 Huntly Street was eventually bought with assistance from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund  and the Foundation for Sports and the Arts in February 1997, and officially opened on 14th May 1998. Since then there have been many changes throughout the building from top to bottom, here we highlight each room to show these changes between then and now.

Click on any of the images below to expand.

Entrance Hall

The entrance hall might not look drastically different to how it was, but it is actually the most changeable space in the whole building due to all the posters, flyers and brochures now on display.


After many years of repeated pushpins creating several weak sections in the board, the large tailor made blue pinboard was replaced with a brand new notice board. This continues to display all the latest NESMS news about teaching, concerts and events. You can also find a room allocation timetable, updated daily for tutors and students to see which room their lessons are in upon arrival and also who else will be sharing the building that day. Plans are in motion to install a digital version of this timetable which can be updated faster and easier; also saving paper.


The pinboard on the opposite wall shows flyers and posters for any upcoming local concerts and festivals making for plenty to see and update your diary with while sat on the chairs provided.


Portraits of NESMS Chairman, President, Vice-President and some of our Patrons currently adorn the entrance hallway.  The current NESMS tutors are displayed on the wall of the lower staircase, ground level to the stairs window, with former tutors displayed on the upper staircase, first to attic floors.

A secondary blue pin board is also now located on the first floor landing outside the office to double your chances of seeing any posters and announcements.

Studio 1

The basement studio was originally deemed “The Brass Room”, providing extra soundproofing in a residential area for French Horn tutor Ifor James to teach from. Now also known as “Nicola’s Room”, due to the regular use by Alexander Technique practitioner Nicola Apel, the basement Studio now houses all the music reference books from our Library system.


Far from being a dark room, a whitewashed light well at the south facing window provides a surprising amount of daylight year round, especially on sunnier days.

The small upright Chappell piano was replaced with an Essex Steinway in 2014, being rolled and lifted slowly down the stairs.


Sadly this room and the library next door suffered from two cases of flooding due to blocked pipes under the nextdoor building; in 2002 the original pink carpets were ruined and replaced by grey carpet tiles, and a smaller flood again in 2009. The new carpet laid elsewhere in the building during the summer of 2019 provided the opportunity to reuse and relay the carpet tiles from the attic studio into the basement studio, thus uniting the studios of the building in NESMS-blue throughout.

The Main Studio/ Studio 2

The largest studio in the building, dedicated to the late Lady Aberdeen June Gordon in 2008, is often referred to as The Main Studio. The layout of this L-shaped studio now remains the same as day one, with the piano on the street side of the building. Only once was the piano moved to the other end of the room to allow more seating upon immediately entering the room, particuarly during small recitals, but this experiment lasted a few short months before returning to this original layout. The Blüthner grand piano seen in the early photos was replaced by a Steinway Boston grand in 2014.


This popular and adaptable space has been used for one-to-one teaching, ensemble rehearsals, masterclasses, small in-house recitals, audition space, coffee mornings and larger committee meetings.


Walls of achievement display Honorary doctorates awarded to past NESMS Tutors Raimund Herincx and Ifor James and NESMS Patron Lisa Milne, alongside Fellowships awarded to NESMS supporters and Honorary Friends of NESMS.


Window transfers were installed to gain some added privacy from the pavement onlookers but to retain the natural light in. A new larger mirror was also installed as a teaching aid.


Watching over all proceedings in pride of place above the piano is a picture of our founder, Dorothy Hately.

Studio 3

Known also as “Joseph’s Room” due to its regular use from piano tutor Joseph Long, Studio 3 is the larger of the two upstairs studios on the first floor. The previous Yamaha piano was replaced by a Boston Steinway in 2014. It was through the window in this room that both the Boston grand and Essex upright piano (in Studio 4) were tentatively crane-lifted into the building. 


The most radical and recent change is that this studio now has carpet and underlay underfoot. A larger new mirror also graces the wall, providing a useful teaching aid for our tutors.

Studio 4

Studio 4 is known for having a unique acoustic sound unlike any other studio in the building. This is due to the angled wall and tapered shape of the room; the consequence of creating another room (now the smaller office) within the original domestic arrangement during the renovations in 1997.


The large upright Fritz Kuhla piano was replaced with the Essex Steinway in 2014. It is this piano that features in the picture on the stairwell of it being crane-lifted into the building.

Similar to Studio 3 next door, this Studio now benefits from new carpet, underlay and a new large mirror. The large desk provides an ideal space for tutors teaching theory work.

The NESMS Office

The beating heart of NESMS. A reshuffle of the layout created a more open space in a relatively narrow room. The original large comfy armchair seen in the corner was moved into the staff room, now the attic studio, for many years to make room for further filing cabinets. Many may remember the security tv monitor that sat on-top of one of the filing cabinet in this corner before the installation of the door entry monitors now found in each studio.


A more compact photocopier, having migrated to the small office next door and then to studio 4 for many years, has now returned into the main office. The original desk seen here in the older photo is now in the main studio.


The upgrades in technology over the years has resulted in today’s flat screen pc monitor. Gone is the bulky fax machine allowing more free desk space to install a secure desk safe for any lesson payments to be deposited should no one be in the office. The main office is also the location of the First Aid kit and is never locked, providing access to phones for emergency use.


Nowadays, though not completely a paperless office, the room is light and airy, providing ample wall space for posters of recent and future events and even space to display a NESMS t-shirt. This is also the best room to find G'Norm the NESMS gnome in.


Sadly no picture of the original small office layout as a music studio exists in the archives. This smaller office is used by assistant manager Shannon Stevenson.

Attic Studio

The attic room was originally designated as a Staff Room, a quiet haven for our tutors to relax and socialise with each other over their coffee breaks and lunches.


Over the years as tuition increased at NESMS, the space slowly evolved into becoming a conference room for meetings and an occasional teaching studio, for individual and small group lessons.


The versatility of this large room remains today. The comfy chairs were replaced in favour of a large conference table and chairs and our electric Roland piano is now set-up by the front window.


Summer 2019 saw new carpets and underlay laid in this room, to help minimise sound and heat transference. Shelving units from the basement studio were also brought up to provide much needed storage in this room.


This room is also where our record player is located, creating an ideal place to settle down and listen to any of the records that make up our large LP collection.


Over 8500 items of music have been donated to NESMS over the years, resulting in the need for more shelving units and filing cabinets (all donated by various Aberdeen companies) to hold the entire collection. Donated music has created a very unique and varied collection holding some rarer original copies of sheet music now out of print.


The scores and sheet music kept in the early days of the school required just a few individual shelves or odd piles of scores per instrument, but as the collection grew a sophisticated library system was implemented and organised by Reg Pringle upon his appointment as assistant administrator and is maintained by the office staff and volunteers.


A collection of hand written instrumental scores is the newest addition to our library, of individual parts arranged and transcribed by Mr R.H Allen, a keen amateur musician and member of numerous South Sussex coast ensembles.  It is estimated that this collection once contained 3000 printed and 2500 hand transcribed parts, to date only 40% of the collection is currently held on the NESMS shelves. 


Any item is free for NESMS persons (for others there is a small fee) to borrow, only requiring a sign-out of the piece/s in the Library book held up in the main office.

The opening 21 Huntly Street - 14th May 1998

New Pianos for NESMS

On an overcast Wednesday 6th August 2014, delivery of four new Steinway pianos to Huntly Street took place. This required the removal of the window in Studio 3, as a crane spectacularly and tentatively lifted the body of a grand and upright piano into the building. Once into their respective studios, the final assembly of legs and keyboard was done.

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